The human heart is a muscular organ that churns out blood to provide oxygen and nutrients and help remove waste. Basically a pump. When it stops, everything stops. The body is silenced.
Heart disease stilled more than 614,000 hearts in this country last year alone. It is the No. 1 killer.
It's the reason the American Heart Association's fundraising theme is "Life is why."
Or, as NYSUT President Karen E. Magee says, "Dad is why." Her father, who died three years ago, is why she is leading the campaign for this year's Capital Region Heart Walk June 11.
Preventing conditions that can threaten the heart is part of the mission of the AHA, which raises money to fund research and fight heart disease. For 2015–16, the AHA allocated $7.6 million for New York State, including funding the work of scientists at private and public colleges.
Team NYSUT is supporting the walk with groups of walkers from teacher unions in the area and NYSUT staff.
Magee kicked off the campaign under her charge with a torch ceremony, which starts the countdown to the heart walk and gives people an opportunity to remember those who have died from stroke and heart attacks.
Stroke survivor Paula Symanski of Malta started the day with a 20-mile bike ride following the route of her ambulance ride between two hospitals in 2009. After years of working hard at her recovery, she is again bicycling. Riding into the ceremony on pedal power was a lot different than being in the back of the ambulance, powerless.
This time around, "I was comfortable. I was relaxed. I was healthy," she said.
To support Team NYSUT, or to register, visit http://nysut.org/heartwalk.
Capital Region Heart Walk, Empire State Plaza, Albany, http://capitalregionheartwalk.org
Buffalo Niagara Heart Walk, Canalside, Buffalo, http://buffaloniagaraheartwalk.org
Long Island Heart Walk, Jones Beach Field 5, http://longislandheartwalk.org
Brooklyn Heart Walk, Cadman Plaza and Brooklyn Bridge Park, http://brooklynheartwalk.org
Westchester Heart Walk, Kensico Dam, Valhalla, http://westchesterheartwalk.org
Where does the money go?
According to the American Heart Association, some of the research funded by donors includes improving techniques and standards for CPR, the first artificial heart valve, implantable pacemakers, treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome, cholesterol inhibitors, microsurgery and drug-coated stents. Since 1949, the AHA and American Stroke Association have invested more than $3.8 billion in heart disease and stroke research.